Why You Need A Bad Guy In Your Startup [Sales]

This article is specifically meant for geeky founders, who have no prior experience in sales/marketing.

First: Introducing You.

– You are a geek who loves to write code, ‘bumped’ into an interesting idea and is now deeply involved in building a business out of it.

– On a normal day, you hate marketing professionals. They sound too noisy and you just don’t trust them.

– On any given day, you are uncomfortable with sales professionals.

But then, you are a founder and you need to run your business.


Second: Introducing Customers.

They will always look for discounts.

– The ‘normal’ ones (especially Indian customers) always look for freebies. They will tell you how associating with them will improve your brand and you can make truckloads of money from other customers . But they will ask you to render your services for free (or maybe 90%+ discount) to them.

– They will always delay payments (read: Why don’t Companies pay their suppliers on time?).

– They will always play good-cop, bad-cop with you and will try to bring down the price of your offering.

– 99% customers will try to suck the hell out of you (and your money). They will tell you how ‘average/okay’ your offering is and why they have a better offer somewhere else. In essence, they will bargain to the last cent.

The problem?

– You are a good guy (or girl).

– You don’t know how to say NO.

– You don’t know how to bargain. Or maybe you just don’t have enough bandwidth to bargain.

– You could be friends with customer (or their representative). You go out and have beer with them.

– You feel a bit awkward following-up with customers. You seem to believe that too many follow-ups will strain your relationship.

In short, you are still grappling with a clear sales focus (though you could be doing extremely well with your product) and that’s why you need an external hand. And probably a ‘BAD Guy’.

No she makes the laws –
she calls the shots
Do what she wants if you want what she’s got
Can’t have it both ways – you gotta chose
She can give you the rhythm or she can give you the blues
Oh, if you want sugar better bring it on home
Better keep it in the kitchen cuz that’s where it belongs
You gotta make her happy boy
Just take it from me
Or you’ll never get none of that tlc
If you’re tryin’ to get lucky
– better knock on wood
If ya wanna be bad ya gotta be good

[Bryan Adams’ “If Ya Wanna Be Bad Ya Gotta Be Good”].

Replace “she” with “customer”.

Roles & Responsibilities Of The Bad Guy

The bad guy

– will simply call up the customer and remind them of payment due date.

– will say NO to customers who want free service. That is, will carry bargain on your behalf.

– be the ‘face’ of the company when it comes to handling backend operations (i.e. following up with customers, vendors etc).

– helps you in playing the good cop-bad cope game with your customers.

That is, the bad guy acts as a shield for you to run your business, the way you’d like it to. The Bad guy helps you in scaling up the sales function, as you can’t be the face of your company all the time (especially when dealing with vendors/customers).

To summarize, You need the bad guy, when you are a good guy. And you need it now, i.e when you are setting up the sales function in your startup.

What’s your opinion?

[Image credit:pasukaru76 (almost no internet)/Flickr]

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